Fixed Life + Travel — Finding a Balance

May 10, 2011

A while back, I tackled a few last boxes of miscellaneous stuff from our post-college move. And I found a list in one of my notebooks. It was a list of trips I wanted to take someday, written at the end of sophomore year, or maybe after I’d returned from Prague during my junior year. It must have been a slow day in class. It got me to thinking. There’s a huge divide between those who choose to travel long-term and those who are living a “fixed life.” It’s hard for me to come to a balance between the two, but slowly, I’m finding that I don’t need to conform to others’ ideas of what real travel is like.

Travel Fixed Life Envy

Looking at that list again, I couldn’t help but wonder what my life would be like if I hadn’t decided to stay in the US this year. If I had taken off to travel or to teach English in South East Asia (on a beach maybe?). I know I wouldn’t be planning a wedding. But, I don’t really have any regrets. And here’s why, I love my fixed life. It’s true. Blasphemous almost, in the travel world, but true. Some travelers, like Christine of C’est Christine, write about missing out on a lot of the perks of fixed life, but still enjoying travel. For me, it’s the opposite. I love my fixed life, but sometimes I miss my “travel” life.

Here’s why I love my fixed life: H and I have a great life here in Seattle. Our expenses are low enough that we’re able to chip away at our student loans at a good rate, thus getting us closer to our goal of being debt free. We both work for pretty awesome companies and really love our jobs. That doesn’t mean we don’t travel. We both prioritize travel, and we choose to spend out money on travel, instead of accumulating more stuff that will only cause us to get a larger apartment (or house) and feel suffocated by the accumulations of modern-day 20-something life. We prefer to spend our money on the experiences. And even if we could leave our loans for later, we don’t want to. We want them gone and FAST.

So yes, I miss the ability to jet off to another city at my any whim. Oh, Berlin. I miss you. And Switzerland. And Beijing. And Prague. I miss it all in so many ways. Especially the food.

Travel Fixed Life Envy

On the other hand, we’re excited to be planning our wedding. A couple weeks ago, I wrote about how we’re doing our wedding on a budget, so we can keep from going into debt. We both refuse to go into debt over one day, its just stupid. It’s crazy to me how this country prioritizes the wedding day and not the marriage. Getting married is so much more than one day, and we should focus more on the lifetime and having congruent goals. Since we’ve been saving for our wedding since about the time we got “real” jobs, we’ve never really been in a place where we could spend a lot of money. We’re used to saving now and living on a budget. We plan on keeping that up after the wedding, perhaps throwing more at our loans, but also saving for travel. We’re already planning trips.

Oh, and there one more thing. I hate long-term travel. It’s true. I don’t like moving every few days. When I lived in the Czech Republic, I would often get sick of traveling. My classmates would hit up a different country every weekend while I would stay in Prague or take day trips. I like having a home base. I’m really more of an expat at heart. I’d rather spend years in a place, really getting to know it, and then move. Over the past few months, as we’ve been wedding planning, we’ve talked about the future. We want to travel more, but know that this isn’t the time for it. However, we don’t believe that travel is a single or childless adventure. Our goal is to live abroad someday. Whether its for a just three or four years or ten years, we want to live abroad. We would love to raise our future children abroad, exposing them to different cultures and ideas from an early age. But for now, we’re staying put. Because what’s the fun in blowing all your money on travel if you’ve always got that debt looming behind you?

Travel Fixed Life Envy

We’re not taking any crazy, long, extensive trips right now. But I’ve got my list. And I’ve got a map on my dining room wall. It’s enough for now.


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photo of the author, she has dark wavy hair, brown glasses, and red lipstick on. She is wearing a grey shirt.


Servus! I’m Emily and you’ve found my little corner of the internet, where I write about travel, intentionally living with less stuff, and living as a German-American family in Munich, Germany.  Want to know more?